A Los Angeles woman says that doctors repeatedly dismissed her ‘textbook’ colon cancer symptoms because of her weight, with one even suggesting it was a ‘blessing’ that she found it too painful to eat.
Amanda Lee, 29, said that she suffered from stomach problems for a long time and saw several doctors and a nutritionist, but no one dug deep into the underlying cause of her symptoms.
Last February, when she told a doctor that she could barely eat due to the pain and had rapidly lost weight, he remarked callously, ‘Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.’
Amanda spent 30 minutes crying in her car after the appointment, and when she went back in to demand an apology, the doctor told her she was too ‘sensitive.’
A month later, a different doctor performed a colonoscopy and found a tumor, which she would later diagnose as stage 3A colon cancer.
Amanda Lee, 29, said she has been suffering stomach pain for a while and went to see several doctors and a nutritionist
In February 2021, she told a new gastroenterologist she wasn’t eating and he suggested it was a ‘blessing,’ telling her: ‘Maybe that’s not such a bad thing’
Amanda had been suffering from stomach pain for a while, and it was severe enough that it left her unable to each much of anything, resulting in a 35-pound weight loss.
She had seen doctors as well as a dietician, who tried to help her pinpoint foods that could be causing her pain — but cutting them out didn’t work.
‘I kept having issues, but I brushed them off because doctors and nurses kept giving me “Band-Aid medications” and not looking further because they said, “You’re young,” or “You’re fat,” or “Your diet is poor,”‘ she told Today.
But she continued to feel worse, and nothing was fixing them.
‘I was getting really sick, dropping weight, not consuming any food, and I was trying to get my insurance to send me to a GI,’ she told Buzzfeed
Then last February, Amanda got an appointment with a new gastroenterologist and came prepared with detailed notes on her pain and her eating habits.
But, she said, she could tell right away he wasn’t taking her seriously, interrupting her and making no mention of any sort of testing.
Amanda cried in her car for a half hour and returned to demand an apology – but the doctor said she was too ‘sensitive’ and didn’t get his ‘humor’
Amanda’s pain was so bad that she could barely eat and rapidly lost 35lbs., but she said her symptoms were often dismissed because of her age and weight
‘You already know when someone doesn’t really care about what you have to say,’ she said.
It ended worse than she expected, and upon leaving the office, she sat in her car crying for a half hour and recorded a TikTok video in which she explained what happened.
‘I’ve been struggling with some abdominal cramping for months now and no doctor will listen to me,’ she began.
‘So I finally got this new GI doctor that I had to fight for and I told him that I haven’t been eating because it causes pain and, like, I have pain when I eat.
‘And he looked at me and had the audacity to say, “Maybe that’s not such a bad thing,”‘ she recounted, sobbing. ‘I am so upset.’
The doctor also suggested it was a ‘blessing’ that she couldn’t eat, and when he sensed that she wasn’t paying attention after that, he asked if she was following what he was saying.
“I said, “No, I’m still caught up on the fact that you told me it’s OK to starve,” and he said, “Well, you don’t look malnourished,”‘ she recalled.
A month later, another doctor performed a colonoscopy and found a large tumor
She was diagnosed her with stage 3A colon cancer, which had spread to her lymph nodes
Amanda argues she could have died because of fatphobia
She has since undergone chemotherapy and is in full remission
While crying in car, Amanda spoke to a friend who convinced her to go back into the office and demand an apology — which she did.
But the doctor didn’t say he was sorry, and was even more dismissive of her when she returned.
“He said, “I’m sorry you don’t get my humor. I’m sorry that you’re sensitive and now you have to find a new provider,”‘ she said.
Ultimately, Amanda found a new doctor, this time seeking out a woman named Dr. Tahmina Haq. Dr. Haq appeared to take her more seriously from the get-go, ordering a colonoscopy.
A month after she sat crying in the doctor’s office parking lot, Amanda learned she had a tumor, and surgery showed it to be colon cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes.
She has since undergone chemotherapy and is complete remission.
Last month, a year after she posted the tearful video, she re-shared the clip on TikTok with an update.
Last month, a year after she posted the tearful video, she re-shared the clip on TikTok with an update
Amanda is continuing to spread her message, pointing out that she almost died of fatphobia
‘Fatphobia in the medical industry literally kills. Diet culture in everyday life literally kills. We don’t discuss it enough,’ she said
‘I took that video a year ago today, and in a month from now, it will be the anniversary of when they found my cancer,’ she said.
‘It still baffles me that a doctor ignored all of my textbook colon cancer symptoms to just put fat, ignorance, lazy medicine on me instead.
‘What baffles me the most is after I took this video, I proceeded to walk back into the doctor’s office and demand an apology. I don’t know who that girl is who did that, but she’s bad a**.
‘And she’s gonna talk about this every day of her life and I hope one day somebody will actually listen.’
People are certainly listening. Her video from last year went viral with over 580,000 views, and her new one this year has been viewed over 245,000 times.
Amanda is continuing to spread her message, pointing out that she almost died of fatphobia.
‘Fatphobia in the medical industry literally kills. Diet culture in everyday life literally kills. We don’t discuss it enough…It’s been too many years of people not being heard, tested, or treated well because they are overweight,’ she said.